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Lockdown Life #7 – back in isolation

Just as everyone finds new freedom, our JB has to go back into isolation...

Since lockdown I’ve lost my mojo. If I ever had mojo, that is. But my dirt bike mojo, such as it has ever been, feels to be at an all time low.

I can’t blame lockdown entirely… actually I can. If it wasn’t for lockdown (the virus and all that) I’d have had the much needed operation on my knee long ago and by now would be just about fully recuperated. As it is, lately I’ve been riding on the bung knee and, as I found out a few days back, that’s not really going to work out. One quick dab on a climb, riding the KTM 390 Adventure, and the pain was pretty intense. ‘Yelp, stop, lie down, cuss, prey, breathe… yes, breathe’ – that level of intense. Plus add a subsequent serving of remorse, and then hope that I hadn’t just done more damage. Damn it.

But even before that dab, riding on a bung knee just isn’t what I’m here for. There’s just not the joy, I can’t move around, can’t ride trail with the confidence – such that I have – that’s necessary to make the right calls. For a while I thought I had it, easing up some climbs with curving lines, using the banks to avoid some steps. But it wasn’t the real deal. And a brief ride on a 700 Ténéré showed there isn’t really the strength nor integrity in the joint that’s needed. Damn again.

On the upside, just as most are coming out of lockdown, I’m properly going in. That sounds bad, but you see I’m starting two weeks of self-isolation on account, against all odds, I have a date for the operation. Or rather ‘an’ operation (there maybe more than one). So I’m grateful for that. Although it means weeks again without riding. Hey ho.

Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
Road riding on big ADV – no worries...
...same goes for 'light off-roading'. But real trails are a no-no for JB

In the workshop, I’ve got my Honda TLR250 as near ready to ride as it’ll ever be. It’s not entirely tiptop, but given my experience testing classic bikes (for other magazines) I know the old bikes are rarely fully on song – there’s always something that needs another fettle or simply renewal. You just try to stay on top of it as best you can.

My last wee mod – a kind of celebration for getting the big jobs done – was to purchase a bunch of bolts from the fine people at Pro-Bolt to tidy up the seat and exhaust fastenings. I ordered stainless bolts but given supply issues the kindly Pro-Bolt guys instead sent me Titanium ones for no extra charge. Ooh, like a factory racer! Of course these shiny, exquisite bolts show up just how decrepit the rest of the bike is. But for me, for now, I’m super-happy. So I can’t want to get this knee back up and running and start riding trials on the TLR again. And there’s a plan to ride some proper classic two-day internationals (at the lowest grade possible – do they do ‘wobbler’?) a plan which is now fast being pushed into 2021.

In the meantime I’m handing over the RUST Honda CRF250RX to Craig for a while. He’s a keen man, and on full strength, and I’m equally keen for the Honda to be shown off to its full potential as it’s a great bike and I know Craig will really get to enjoy this wee screamer for all its worth.

So for now, I’m feeling a mix of funk and jubilation. I’m over the sitting around; I want to be riding again, the way I enjoy. Only that’s not going to be for a while longer. But I can at least see light at the end of the tunnel.

Honda TLR250
Two of the six new Titanium bolts. Whatever floats your boat...
Honda TLR250
All dressed up but nowhere to go
The Honda CRF250RX is a weapon – should now be in the right hands with Craig

Ahh yes, and as Craig said in his latest blog, there’s the dog. A lockdown acquisition. Secondhand from the local canine recyclers (Dogs Trust), but low mileage, nearly new (7 months old). He’s not got the legs to play wingman on the trails as Craig’s pooch Herbie does, but Yogi is from a breed that does speed – moto style. Previous Bentman Chow Chows have been big into the bikes. Saxon was a TT race paddock veteran. Shellie managed over 115mph while gluing himself to the fuel tank of Dad’s GPz900R (could be a canine land speed record) while Talley started with quad riding but eventually mastered riding off-road on the tank of an XL250, although at 20-25kg she was a bit of a lump and we had to give up on jumps. Yogi’s a bit lively mind, so I’m not sure where his moto skills might lead. Given his increasing size, it might be GSA time…

The dog's got some fight. Got some fur too...

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